Sunday, August 01, 2010

In which I talk about undergarments and 'The Girls'

Main Entry: 1bos·om
Pronunciation: \ˈbu̇-zəm also ˈbü-\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English bōsm; akin to Old High German buosam bosom
Date: before 12th century

1 a : the human chest and especially the front part of the chest b : a woman's breasts regarded especially as a single feature

If I was interviewed on 'Inside the Actor's Studio', and the man with the stack of blue cards asked me what my favorite word was, I'd be torn between 'luminous' and 'bosom'. I always associated bosom with a lady in a long dress and an apron who bakes and administers good advice.


On the way back from a late night ambulance run, we stopped at an 24 hour retail establishment because my co-pilot needed to buy a set of shelves that wouldn't have fit in her car. As we pulled into the parking lot I realized that I would practice some good self care and pick up something I desperately needed. How desperately? You be the judge:

That sad garment has five identical sisters. They slouch in a graying, resigned pile in one corner of my sock drawer, ready, sort of willing, and mostly able to do the very important job of aiming my headlights. I knew they needed to be replaced. I tried to ignore this fact. The final straw --no matter how carefully I attempted to avoid it when fastening my seatbelt in the ambulance, I always honked the horn with my left boob. Not exactly the professional demeanor one is going for in that situation.

Yes, it was time for some new ones. But I had two problems. The first had to do with the complicated algebra of determining correct size, where you are supposed to put on a bra that fits you properly (which is problematic because if I had those, we wouldn't be engaging in this particular exercise), measure around the band, measure around the 'fullest part of the breast', subtract one from the other, solve for 'x', multiply that by the cosine of 'y' over the result, bearing in mind that the nearest exit may be behind you, then have your chart done when Mars is ascendant to determine your cup size. I hadn't done this. But I had a vague notion of numeric size and as far as cups go I was somewhere between 'Well, Alright' and 'Rack of Doom'. So I figured I could guess.

The other problem was the time. 2-2:30am is not a particularly good time to make decisions about vital pieces of clothing.

I was not one of those girls that couldn't wait for a training bra. In fact, I held out so long that we were past training and heading into orientation before I agreed to wear one. I think I was terrified by the undergarments I watched my grandmother put on as a child. Ever the preacher of 'a dress only looks as good as what you wear under it', my grandmother took underthings very, very seriously. To put it in other terms, if your run of the mill Playtex is a VW Beetle, Mom-Mom favored the Armored Personnel Carrier. To this day I'll never understand how she did 18 hooks behind her back. I was no fan of scratchy fabric. Back then bras came in boxes, organized in drawers in the department store, and every single one a rappelling harness with a tiny rose embroidered on it. You wore it and you didn't complain.

Now the choices are numerous and varied. Too numerous and varied, I'm thinking, for someone who has been awake all day, got four hours of sleep the night before, and is now running on fumes through Walmart at 2:30 with only a vague sense of proper size. They still have the ones in the boxes; the drawers crouch demurely in the corner alongside gaudy specimens in every conceivable color and style, including some that should come with a red feather boa. I aimed for something in the middle and started digging.

One whole wall was what I would term a 'sports bra'. No hooks, you sort of wrestle yourself into them and those of us beyond 12 year old gymnast size end up with an attractive Uniboob. No, thankye kindly. On to the more traditional offerings.

Here's my first mistake. What is going on here?

It looks like it already has a pair in it. What was I thinking? I tried it on and while it fit nicely, I felt like I didn't so much put it on as decide to stand in it.

If only it came with a lariat. Oh, and in my delirium I bought an UNDERWIRE. Hate hate hate.

The second mistake was a two-fer. It was two to a pack; its sister is just blue.

No words. Only this.

Photo from here.

I suppose I'll get used to these in time, though due to a couple of miscalculations I need to get some extenders. But at least everything will be pointing in the right direction. And not activating any horns or sirens.

I'll let our buddy Creed take us out with some boobular wisdom.


Nanny Goats In Panties said...

I more than loved this post! You've got a lot of gems in here. I mean, in addition to the two you wrote about. :)

e.g.: "I felt like I didn't so much put it on as decide to stand in it."

JD at I Do Things said...

Forget childhood dreams of training bras. I always longed to honk the horn with my left boob while attaching my seatbelt.

Sigh. You really ARE Wonder Woman.

Kristen said...

I have no words. You just crack me up. Thank you for blogging. More please??

(And I, too, would love to honk a car horn with my boob, but since my boob region is practically concave, the best I can do is bonk the steering wheel with my forehead.)

midlifenatalie said...

this post was hilariously funny then the comments sent me crying for a tissue. just now recovered enough to type this. hahahaha. said...

Nice - that was a great read.

I had NO idea what the picture was but then it became crystal clear. I take it you have big hooters if you honk the horn with your cans.

To funny - I guess us guys have it nice we don't hvae to worry about that.

Shieldmaiden96 said...

Yep, Margaret, and I think that particular one is going to have to be a no-go. I tried to wear it all day yesterday and I ended up around 11:30pm whipping it out of my sleeve in the ambulance and shoving it in the glove compartment (no patients on board, don't worry). It was incredibly uncomfortable, though not nearly as uncomfortable as the realization that I'd LEFT IT in the glove compartment. Had to run over there this afternoon and snatch it out before someone went to replace the disk in the speed monitor and got a face full of padded goodness.

JD, my sister used to assert that 'more than a mouthful's a waste'.
Of course, she spent a tax return check on a new pair a few years ago so YMMV.

Kristen-- Thanks!! As for the steering wheel,I've done that too, sadly. Usually when I drop something on the floor. Ambulances have a lot of extra equipment in the front and the cabs aren't very roomy.

Thanks, Natalie! Those are the best kind of comments.

Walt, the problem was less the size and more the fact that the, ah, altimeter was broken on the old model. I was not achieving proper elevation.
Oh, never mind.

Junk Drawer Kathy said...

You are one of my very favorite writers. Thank you for dipping your toe in the blogging waters again.

As Margaret said, there are a lot of gems in there and I just want to bask in their glow instead. It does me good.

cardiogirl said...

Favorite line: No, thankye kindly.

You totally took me back to sixth grade (yes, late bloomer and proud of it, dammit) when I was forced to give up my rockin' undershirts for a training bra. I was reluctant but succumbed to peer pressure and my mother's decree that "it was time."

The peer pressure came about from all of the boys who felt the need to snap the girls' bra straps.

Talk about being ostracized when there was no strap. It was like puberty's version of The Crying Game.

Shieldmaiden96 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shieldmaiden96 said...

Oh, and FORGET minimizer bras. If you had any friends who were a bit advanced in their development they got the scratchy model that transformed them into Bettie Page. The boys didn't dare snap those straps for fear of ricochet.

Shieldmaiden96 said...

I really should have read that comment before I had a mouthful of toast. I almost choked on it.

What sticks in my mind about those first bras was that they were constructed from the most unpleasant, scratchy synthetic material imaginable. Until I developed a threshhold for that, the first summer was a misery.

(Deleted and reposted by me because I addressed it to the wrong person. Because clearly I've only had 3/4 of a cup of coffee and that is NOT ENOUGH.